Minimum caliber for deer and hogs


Senior Member
before some educated youngster rewrote the specs . it used to say 500 ft lbs at 50 yds i think . 357 barely with spec loads . definetly not 9 mm . maybe if ya hold it sideways and got a gangsta grin .
I thought it was 500 ft*lbs at 100 yds?

That is really hard to pull off with a .357 mag. Maybe in a contender with a 10" barrel, it can be done, but in a 4" or shorter revolver, real hard to pull off. Can get 500 Ft*lbs at the muzzle with a .357 sig, but it won't be there at 100 yards, 9mm sure won't either.


Senior Member
Virginia laws were stated previously
Sorry for leading ya'll on
My origins are in my profile

I was in Roanoke this weekend. Have relatives there, dad is from there. Hit all the usual gun stores also. Sportsmans Warehouse, Bryansteens, Roanoke Pawn, Trader Jerry's . Scored some primers at Sportsmans Warehouse and some S&W 3rd mags at Bryansteens and Jerry's.



Senior Member
Any centerfire cartridge will kill a deer. As long as it's in range. Keywords- in range
That may be 1 yard or 1000 yards. :)

Guy wrote a nice piece in 2016 Deer Almanac praising the .357 Mag with 158 grain. Why? Because you have to be able to hit what you aim at, and the recoil from a .357 is substantially less than everything else. But, if you're going for hogs, also, I would say the 44 Magnum is minimum. I shot both for many years, decades ago, but I found keeping a scope zeroed on a 44 Mag was problematic, but, surely they have better handgun scopes today.
My fil told me stories about growing up and poaching deer with a 22 mag. And let me say this. If he did they wouldn't have ate. Is what he told me. And I believe him. They where and still are dirt poor. Head and neck shots only.

Rich M

Senior Member
Imo, it depends on the bullet and weight.

9mm w 147 gr xtp and it'll kill a deer in bow range. The likelihood of a bad hit is LESS than with a bow, cause the deer won't dip or dodge the bullet.

My bottom line for me is 357 mag, 4 inch, 158 or 180 xtp and keep it inside 50 yds.


Senior Member
It pretty much boils down to your skill level, bullet choice and range. I have used a .22 Remington Jet in a S&W revolver, but I practiced with it and felt comfortable with the 15 yard shot that presented itself. I would feel comfortable using a .327 Federal Mag out to 50 yards. When using what some would call marginal calibers you must be willing to pass on a lot of shots. A .357 is usually pretty adequate for deer and pigs. Whatever you use practice and become familiar with it

Revolver - .357 Magnum

Auto - 10 mm

Buy bullets made for hunting big game.

Limit shots to archery range.

Center fire Rifle cartridges in a handgun - 257 Roberts - 100 yards +
WHo's archery range. I have 357 Mag Model 27 6 inch barrel that I have cleanly taken deer out to 75. Got a 10" Contender that has taken deer out that far as well and i would not hesitate shooting one at 100 with it. my max range limit on SW is 75 and the Contender is 100.....I cant shoot and arrow reliably to 75.
.357 magnum, with 180 gr hollow point Remington short jacket, over a max charge of H110 or Alliant 2400. ALWAYS use a magnum primer in a .357

Other coice is a .50 caliber flintlock pistol with a patched round ball. pistol deer.jpg
I’ve killed hogs with a Randal #1 knife. We ran with the dogs and stuck them in the heart while the dogs held them. They wilt as the blood flows out. But now at 76, I shoot them in the brain with a 22 rifle or pistol.
deer requires a center fire rifle in my state of residence so I use a 223.


Senior Member
Are we talking revolver or single shot pistols?


Senior Member
Our law states that caliber must be 23 caliber or larger which makes eligibility start at 6mm or .243 ...
(unless you know of a 23 caliber cartridge)
The bore has less influence on a bullet's lethalness than it's energy does.
I'd prefer to use a foot/pound factor for setting an ethical standard of hunting big game.
Our State's game laws only requires that pistols to generate 350 foot/pounds of energy.
I'd feel more confident with quite a bit more energy than that.
This would do. 6x45
View attachment 1045918
But this would be better. 444 Marlin
View attachment 1045919

Nothing says you can’t have your barrel marked .23 something especially the way cartridges are named